Beyond the Game

Beyond the game: Taeler Deer, freshman guard

Taeler Deer is a legend in Channelview, Texas, a small, tight-knit suburb of Houston.

Deer’s number, 23, was retired in the high school gym. Her relationship with her coach, Kim Lockett, is about more than basketball.

In Lockett’s eyes, Deer is the daughter she never had.  

Their relationship grew over four years. Lockett was always available to her players but expected more from Deer.

Deer remembers an instance when Channelview was inbounding the ball. She was open in the corner, but Lockett told the other point guard to set the play up. Deer was upset, and Lockett benched her for the remaining two minutes of the game.

The team lost their seven-point lead and went into overtime.

Beyond the game: David Paiz, senior infielder

When he was 12 years old, David Paiz, senior first baseman, saw the New York Yankees jersey Babe Ruth had worn and the bat Ken Griffey swung as a member of the Cincinnati Reds.

David and his family made the trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. The visit happened when David was 12 years old, right after he won the Little League World Series with the Austin Eagles.

“It’s a really great memory,” David said. “I’ll honor it forever.”

His father, David Paiz, Sr., could tell his son was going to be a baseball player. David could hit the ball well at a young age when his father coached him in his tee-ball years.

Beyond the game: Lucas Humpal, junior pitcher

14-year-old Lucas Humpal—now a junior pitcher—and his older brother, Nathan, were in San Antonio for their select team baseball tournament. The team went through the entire bracket to reach the championship game.

The starting pitcher for the team was hurt, and the head coach was concerned. Then the team learned the starting catcher would be ineligible to play as well.

Five players on the opposing team had signed for Division I scholarships.

The coach told the team and parents that they were “out of gas.”

Lucas’ father, Randy, approached the head coach explaining he might want to give Lucas a shot as a catcher and have Nathan on the mound.

Beyond the game: Cat Osterman

Although Cat Osterman is a decorated softball player, she always had a passion for coaching.

Osterman, a four-time All-American and two-time Olympic medalist, is in her first season assistant coaching for the Bobcats.

“This is technically my third coaching job, and coaching is something that I’ve always wanted to do,” Osterman said. “I approach the game differently, obviously, but I feel I’m able to approach it with a little more passion with some fun involved. I’m comfortable here, and I’m excited to see what the future holds.”

The Houston native played three years at Texas. She led the Longhorns to three consecutive College World Series appearances.

Beyond the game: Cedric Vallieres, senior infielder

Cedric Vallieres and his father packed up the car, leaving behind his Canadian roots for a new experience.

Vallieres knew no language but his first, French. It was a fight-or-flight experience when the car stopped in Clarendon.

“I opened the door, and it was just crazy how hot it was,” Vallieres said. “I was not used to it, but it’s my fourth year right now in Texas, and I love it.”

Vallieres said having no choice but to speak English to his teammates at Clarendon College, where he began his collegiate baseball career, helped him learn the language quickly. 

Beyond the game: JaMarcus Weatherspoon, junior guard

His last name is at the end of the alphabet, so JaMarcus Weatherspoon, junior guard, sat nervously, waiting to walk across the stage.

JaMarcus’ peers received their diplomas and gave brief remarks. He could hear his mother, Emmaline, chanting “save the best for last.”

After a few moments, JaMarcus stood before a packed Southern University Superdome in his maroon cap and gown and could only look to the crowd in disbelief.

JaMarcus was not supposed to graduate.

“I didn’t expect to be where I’m at today,” JaMarcus said. “It’s only God that got me here.”

Beyond the game: Meghan Braeuer, senior guard

Meghan Braeuer, senior guard, faced with her first test of adversity four games into conference play.

The Bobcats were coming off a 20-point loss to Arkansas-Little Rock when Coach Zenarae Antoine asked Braeuer, the team’s second-leading scorer, to trust the game plan.

“I sat down with Meghan before the game and just asked her to trust me, and I’m very appreciative that she did,” Antoine said. “Because now what we’ve found is that she’s opened up her game and committed to defense and is a leader for us out on the floor.”

Braeuer had been pressing and not letting the game come to her in the three previous contests heading into the match against Louisiana-Monroe, which the Bobcats ended up winning 70-64.

Beyond the game: Kendell Ramlal, sophomore forward

Most kindergarten parents deal with issues of intellectual underdevelopment, but Cherrie and Keith Ramlal were different.

Their son, Kendell, now a sophomore forward for the Texas State men’s basketball team, was too smart.

“Kendell got bored very easily in school,” Cherrie said. “He only spent four months in kindergarten, and when we went back after Christmas break, they moved him up to the first grade.”

For Kendell, the learning never ended.

He completed three pages from five different workbooks to occupy himself during the summer. Otherwise he would get bored.

Kendell was the tallest in most of his classes, the youngest, and often the smartest.

Beyond the game: Wes Davis, senior guard

The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks earned their 12th win of the season over Southern Methodist University during the 2007 SMU Holiday Classic with over 2,400 people watching.

Despite the large crowd, Preston Davis was concerned about only one person—Wes, his younger brother.

“Just to see the look on his face,” Preston said. “We actually won that game, and just for him to see the school that was considered the smallest school to play SMU come in and win.”

Growing up, Wes Davis, senior guard, largely followed the example his brother set.

Preston led and Wes followed both in conditioning and playing basketball in the driveway.

Wes had no idea he would be following in his brother’s footsteps once again with college basketball.

Beyond the game: Kileah Mays, junior center

Kileah Mays, junior center, marches to the beat of her own drum, and that is the way she likes it.

“I feel like my personality is kind of weird sometimes because a lot of people wouldn’t perceive me as what they expected from me,” Mays said.

When describing herself, Mays often comes back to one word—old. Old school. Old body. Old spirit.

“A lot of people say I’m an ‘old body,’” Mays said. “I do feel like I have an old spirit because a lot of people my age will talk about going to the mall or places like that while I’m here like, ‘I want to watch HGTV and learn how to build things.’ So that’s why I think I’m ‘older’ because people will say like, ‘That’s boring,’ but I think it’s fun.”

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